Libertarian. Enjoys politics, technology, music, food and drink.
Listening to Ben Brogan presenting this week’s Week in Westminster on Radio 4, while the polling chat was interesting, the segment which struck a chord the most was the debate between UKIP’s Lord Pearson, and the Conservatives’ David Heathcoat-Amory MP. This has ran a little parallel to conversations I’ve had with friends of mine at the moment concerning whether the Tories are really Conservative enough.
As someone who went to a Grammar School in the face of terrible state schools or out-of-reach public schools, as the only other opportunities locally, I am a great supporter of the Grammar School. Selective schools offer a better education for those of us who can’t afford to pay for it, and to me this has always one of the best parts of our education system. UKIP are offering their support behind grammar schools, something I can only agree with, and indeed reading their education manifesto, their thoughts on Universities fall in line with my own as well.
In 1962 there were only 250,000 university students. The current figure (2005) is just over 1,000,000 – some 43% of all 18-21-year olds . This percentage is only slightly less than the 47% of students who gained 5 or more GCSE grades A*-C (and it is possible to gain a grade C with a score of only 20%.) The only possible conclusion, even allowing for an increase in the population and in the pop- ularity of university education, is that a significant number of students are being awarded degrees when their academic performance clearly does not merit it. This country simply does not need this over-supply of graduates.
The abundance of Universities, and number of graduates, as a soon-to-be graduate myself is a natural worry, even if I do come from a University that inevitably would be cut under UKIP. Still, reading through their education manifesto, it still seems a rather conservative, old-hat take on education, and indeed compared to the revolution that the Tories free schools programme would bring, I know where my priorities would lie. Competition like that between the British public schools, in the state sector will work incredibly well, yet if the state still provided Grammar schools, wouldn’t that competition be even greater? Free schools up against state Grammar Schools would inspire further competition that would truly open up the education field in this country. And unfortunately the lack of support for Grammar Schools with David Cameron will forever be one thing that bothers me about giving him my vote.
The other issue of course is their stance on Europe; and there must be a generation of Conservative voters irritated by Cameron’s nonchalance to Europe. Again, UKIP seems to shine here, and they undoubtedly will clinch Tory votes from those who list Europe as the most important issue. My main euroscepticism however is over immigration; an issue David Cameron has promised to deal with, and my faith with him to deal with it fairly and effectively is resolute. The EU is of course far too bureaucratic, but again Cameron, pre-recession, couldn’t be near a microphone without the phrase ‘post-bureaucratic age’ leaving his lips.
In 2009, 19% of the vote in the European elections went to UKIP; a disproportional figure of voting intention now, but perhaps a stand to show that one fifth of the country are eurosceptic enough to vote for UKIP in an election over all else. This figure drops of course in the general election opinion polls, and so the rest of the country, like me, must favour other issues when it comes reasons for voting intention.
The argument put across by Lord Pearson was that in a hung parliament UKIP would get more of a vote, which was quickly rejected as a realistic scenario by Heathcoat-Amory, noting a hung parliament would most favour the Lib Dems, who are the most eurocentric party out of the main three. Not only this, but Heathcoat-Amory perhaps slyly reaffirmed that there was a Conservative backbench that were eurosceptic, and that do favour Grammar schools, and the best chance for the public of these issues being resolved was a Conservative majority; for more Conservative MPs, and indeed more conservative-Conservative MPs, means a much greater chance of these issues being dealt with in Parliament.
Heathcoat-Amory mocked “there you have it, vote UKIP for a Hung Parliament,” and that’s certainly not a vote, I’m ready to cast.